If you prefer the back or side sleeping positions, there are several important factors to consider when looking for pillows.
Different sleeping positions require different types of pillows. This is true because pillows are supposed to facilitate spinal alignment and the requirement for that may vary based on how you sleep.
For now, we shall focus on back and side sleepers — the two most popular sleeping positions out there.
When you’re sleeping on your back, you need to make sure your neck is in alignment with your spine and hips. If your neck is craned upwards or downwards, you may wake up with neck pain or a stiff neck.
You can ensure this by using a pillow that has a medium or high loft, depending on whichever facilitates alignment. You should also opt for a medium-firm or firm pillow that doesn’t sink with the weight of your head.
When you’re sleeping on your side, you apply great pressure on your shoulders and neck. You need a pillow with a high loft so it can cover the distance between the mattress and your neck, thus keeping your neck in spinal alignment. If your pillow doesn’t have a high enough loft, your neck will drop downwards, which will lead to neck pain and back pain.
The best pillows for side sleepers have a high loft, ranging from 4” to 6”. You should also ideally find a contour pillow with a gusset that follows the slope of your neck and shoulders. Since you’ll rest the side of your face on the pillow, it should also be comfortable and come with a breathable pillow cover.
We have combed the internet looking for the best side and back pillows on the market. In this article, we review the best back and side pillow in 2021 according to a doctor.
Best Back and Side Pillow — Elite Rest Contour Sleeper
Elite Rest Contour Sleeper is the best memory foam pillow for side sleepers and back sleepers. This is a contour memory foam pillow, which means it has a curved face — the higher contour measures 4 inches and the lower contour measures 2.75 inches.
When you sleep on your side, the gusset supports the crook of your neck and covers the distance between the mattress and your neck. This ensures that you don’t suffer from neck pain. While your neck rests on the higher contour, your head can rest on the lower contour, thus further supporting spinal alignment. The memory foam filling is also ideal for spinal alignment because it conforms to the shape of your body.
This pillow has a width of 12 inches, which is enough to support your head in place and anchor it without letting it fall off. This pillow is also perfect for back sleepers because you can rest your head on the 4” gusset or the 2.75” basin, depending on where you feel most comfortable.
In addition to being ideal for spinal alignment, this pillow also comes with a machine washable and removable pillow cover made of 100% cotton. This pillow cover supports air circulation, making it highly breathable, which is crucial if you’re sleeping on your side.
Alternative Pillows for Side Sleepers and Back Sleepers
Elite Rest Slim Sleeper
Elite Rest Slim Sleeper is one of the best alternative pillows for back sleepers and side sleepers with small necks. This is a latex pillow with a loft height of 2.75 inches. As such, this pillow is ideal for back sleepers because that loft height can keep your neck in a stable position. This pillow isn’t suitable for all side sleepers because 2.75 inches may cause your neck to drop downwards. However, if you have a smaller neck than average, this pillow can comfortably support you. As a latex foam pillow, it’s firm and doesn’t give away under pressure, which is crucial for stability. It’s also made with a pin-hole construction so it has lots of holes for ventilation and air circulation, making it extremely breathable.
WonderSleep Premium is a shredded memory foam pillow in which you get pillows with a single set. The shredded memory foam filling offers therapeutic support and is ideal for spinal support because it conforms to the shape of your neck and shoulders. It’s an adjustable memory foam pillow so you can add or remove the filling to adjust the loft height, which means it’s perfect for both back sleepers and side sleepers. It also comes with an extremely breathable pillow cover made of 60% polyester and 40% bamboo.
Continental Bedding Superior
Continental Bedding Superior is one of the best 100% down pillows on the market and is often used in luxury hotels. This is a queen size pillow with 100% down 700 fill power Hungarian White Goose Down, which makes this pillow extremely fluffy and lightweight. Despite being filled with goose down, this pillow is still hypoallergenic. It comes with an extremely luxurious cotton cover with a 300 thread count as well.
Different sleeping positions require different types of pillows, depending on what helps you achieve perfect spinal alignment. Back sleepers need medium-firm pillows with a loft height that supports their neck in a neutral position in relation to the rest of their body. Side sleepers need high-loft pillows, preferably with a gusset, that can cover the distance between the mattress and the neck. Elite Rest Contour Sleeper is the best memory foam pillow for side sleepers and back sleepers — it’s made of memory foam and has a contoured design ranging from 4” to 2.75”. The memory foam also offers greater support because it conforms to the shape of your neck and shoulders.